Thursday 6 July 2023

Spotlight on: IOP Publishing double anonymous peer review and transparent peer review

This year, the judges have selected a shortlist of four for the new ALPSP Impact AwardWe also invite ALPSP members to take part in the judging process before the closing date of 31 July. Vote online

The finalists will be showcased in a lightning presentation session at the ALPSP Conference on 13 September, with the winners announced at the ALPSP Conference Awards Dinner on 14 September in Manchester.

In this series, we learn more about each of the finalists.

IOPP logo

Tell us about your organization

IOP Publishing is a society-owned scientific publisher, delivering impact, recognition, and value to the scientific community. Our purpose is to expand the world of physics, offering a portfolio of journals, eBooks, conference proceedings and science news resources globally. Our aim is to publish the latest and best research in the physical sciences and beyond, and make that research available to as many people as possible.

As a wholly owned subsidiary of the Institute of Physics (IOP), a not-for-profit society, our net income goes directly to the IOP to assist their mission to help everyone build their knowledge of physics and to provide professional support for physicists.

What is the project/product that you submitted for the Awards?

To fight bias and lack of transparency in peer review, IOP Publishing has introduced two complementing peer review methods: double anonymous peer review and transparent peer review. Double anonymous review is applied during the peer review process, before acceptance, and transparent review is delivered post-acceptance through the publication of the reviewer reports and author responses. Together these two processes complement each other, allowing for maximum objectivity during the review process, and maximum transparency after publication. The first results show that these two complementary methods have a positive impact on the peer review process. They help tackle the significant under-representation of authors due to gender, racial, affiliation and geographical bias and address the lack of transparency and sharing of best practices in peer review.  

Tell us a little about how it works and the team behind it

Introducing double anonymous peer review involved not only technological changes to our submission system (Clarivate), but also some considerable changes to our internal processes. Setting up transparent peer review was a major technological challenge and, to do so, we partnered with Publons to develop a highly efficient solution in which the relevant peer review data is automatically transferred between systems (peer review, production and web platforms) via APIs, without the need for manual intervention. A key element of the introduction of these two peer review methods was communication with our author and reviewer communities making sure they could appreciate why we were making these changes. It’s taken us about twelve months to migrate all our journals onto the new workflows, with the help from a specialist project team of editorial, technical, marketing and other supporting colleagues. 

In what ways do you think it demonstrates innovation?

IOP Publishing (IOPP) is the first society publisher to combine double anonymous peer review and transparent peer review throughout its entire portfolio of owned open access journals. Even though, double anonymous peer review and transparent peer review are not new concepts in themselves, combining the two methods is innovative. The two peer review methods complement each other and together they deliver significant positive change to our peer review process and we’re beginning to see some fascinating results. For example, authors from Africa are more than twice as likely to have their work accepted under double anonymous, compared to single anonymous! 

What are your plans for the future?

We are planning to roll out transparent peer review to all of our journals (including our partner journals) by the end of 2024. At the moment, we only publish the peer review history if both the authors and reviewers of a paper opt in. We may remove the opt in/out option so that all reviewer reports and author replies will be made public alongside all published papers. With regards to the roll-out of our double anonymous peer review policy, we intend to share our learnings and insights and are exploring automated solutions to help more authors effectively anonymise their work. 

About the author

Kim Eggleton, Peer Review and Research Integrity Manager, IOP Publishing

Twitter: @IOPPublishing
LinkedIn: IOP Publishing

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